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A Young Tree Dead? The Story of Economics in Australia and New Zealand

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  • William Coleman

Abstract

The key problem of economics in Australia and New Zealand is its marginality. The history of its economics will, then, be at bottom an account of the confrontation of that marginality. Thus any story of economic thought in Australia and New Zealand will necessarily tell of the attempt to plant and cultivate in uncleared ground the long developed vine of older societies. It will relate how the cultivators perforce pondered whether adapting the growth to local conditions would be more or less rewarding than simply perfecting their cultivation of the imported stem, and introducing its ever purer varieties. It will reveal that the adaptation of imported varieties to idiosyncratic condition was in the event limited, though not wholly without significance; and even leaving some trace of cross-fertilisation of the wider world. For all that, the story, I contend, will conclude today with the local strains being submerged by the benefits and snares of globalization. The history of economics in Australia and New Zealand has been written before, both in detail and synoptically, with considerable scholarship and some panache (Goodwin 1966, Groenewegen and McFarlane 1990, La Nauze 1949, King 2007, Cornish 2008, Blythe 2008, Hight 1939). The present history seeks to add through its focus on the predicament of any economics that rationally and usefully bears the adjective 'Australian'.

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  • William Coleman, 2013. "A Young Tree Dead? The Story of Economics in Australia and New Zealand," CEPR Discussion Papers 688, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:688
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP688.pdf
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